23 Apr

Housatonic Community College Innovates Virtual Entrepreneurship Competition During COVID-19 Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic could not stop Housatonic Community College (HCC) from hosting its annual Elevator Pitch Competition. In keeping with the mandate for social distancing, the competition was moved to a first-ever online format. Students dreaming of running their own business competed virtually for prizes, with an enthusiastic response.

A record twenty-one budding entrepreneurs in HCC’s Business Administration program participated in the competition administered by HCC’s VentureLab. With guidance from HCC business professors, students honed their presentation skills and recorded a video of themselves pitching their business concept for up to one minute, then posted the video online for judging. With business ideas ranging from an app to scan food labels, to home party planning and custom clothing, the competition was fierce.

Selection criteria included product superiority to alternatives, adequacy of target market to support the business, viability of financial strategy, and a demonstrated knowledge and professionalism of the presenter.

Eleven student entrepreneurs with the highest ratings received grant awards up to $1,000 to assist with prototype development, testing, inventory and marketing. Winners included, Taisha Marie, an online boutique for custom made clothing; B.A.B.E. LLC, a natural cosmetics company; Sunshine Cosmetics, an organic cosmetics firm; Lavish Lathers, offering natural soap for sensitive skin; Flash and Splash soap, offering a bar or liquid soap with a 20-second timing light; Event Dreamworld, a home party planning company, Teal Woods Hand Made Prints, offering hand-made block prints; Dry-Ped, a foot dryer for the elderly; Pics on the Go, a photo booth rental firm; Guss Mexican Food Truck and Visual Clue LLC, a visual clue board game to prevent memory loss.

“I am very excited that the jury chose my elevator pitch as a winner for the contest,” said Ines Taco-Viteri, creator of Visual Clue LLC. “This prize means a big step in my entrepreneurial journey.”

Funding for the competition and awards was made possible through the Housatonic Community College Foundation and generous sponsors Bigelow Tea, People’s United Bank and AVANGRID.

“We congratulate our many winners, and as a next step we will offer additional assistance, advice and counsel to help them make their dreams a reality,” said Mike Roer, HCC Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of VentureLab.

The annual competition is just one of the resources offered by HCC’s VentureLab, which assists students with the capital, knowledge, and skills necessary to test and launch their business dreams. Leveraging college and community resources, students receive one-on-one business counseling and a secure on-campus space to work on their businesses while preparing to step into manager/owner roles in Main Street businesses.

“We are thrilled that we could continue the competition in a new, virtual format. This annual tradition provides our Business Administration students an opportunity to show off their speaking skills, sharpen their powers of persuasion and showcase their imagination. We are grateful to the sponsors for supporting our next generation of business leaders,” said Dr. Thomas G. Coley, Acting President Housatonic Community College and Regional President, CSCU Shoreline-West.

Beyond the HCC competition, five out of the seven finalists in the upcoming Connecticut Elevator Pitch Olympics are HCC students. That competition will take place live via zoom conferencing on April 24.

Caption For Photo Above: HCC Student Rachel Moore is one of eleven winners in the Housatonic Community College VentureLab Elevator Pitch Competition. Rachel’s business, Teal Woods Hand Made Prints, tied for third place, winning her a $300 award.

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